Five years ago, I opened up my e-mail to find a message from Priscilla Painton, then-executive editor at TIME. “No, this is not a solicitation to buy a subscription,” she began, before telling me that the magazine was looking for a new politics editor and asking whether I was interested. I don’t entirely remember what my initial reaction was, but I believe it involved a happy dance around the apartment.
If the job itself was a thrill, the 2008 campaign was a dream for a lifelong politics nerd. I grinned like a candidate in a rope-line every time I reminded myself that I was covering the election for TIME–first as an editor and later as a writer–even if it meant going back to work three days after my wedding. (Like Hillary Clinton, we made the grave miscalculation that the Democratic nomination would be sorted out around Super Tuesday.)
But Swampland has been where I’ve felt most at home, where I could be myself–whether reporting on the abortion debate that almost sunk health-care reform or telling John Edwards to please pull down the shades and stop embarrassing America. It’s a deceptively informal platform. But I knew that even if I was tapping out an item on two hours of sleep with a napping baby in the next room and a snoring cat on my desk, whatever I wrote could be quoted as “TIME’s Amy Sullivan reports that…” I have never forgotten what a privilege it is to have this perch. And I will dearly miss it.
Because while you may still see my byline here from time to time, I’m leaving. I am eager to turn my full attention to a book that blessedly has nothing to do with politics or religion. And I’m happy to cede our household’s coverage of this election to my husband. (His book about the Obama economic team is out on February 28, and was edited by Priscilla Painton, now executive editor at Simon & Schuster. Funny how life works out.)
If I have one regret about my time here, it’s that the First Lady never responded to my challenge for a Hoop-Off. I’d like to think that she was intimidated by tales of my hula-hooping prowess. But it seems she was just waiting for a better offer. TV people have all the fun.